I was recently staying at a country home in France, Since the house was surrounded by red currant bushes and the branches were loaded with tiny red berries, I spent a good portion of the weekend picking the little red orbs, relieving the branches of the tiny clusters of gorgeous little fruits. As I greedily filling my mouth with the puckery berries, I was overcome with a feeling of having to bake something. So all was not lost…and bake something I did!
Rhubarb-Red Currant Crisp
I made a terrific Rhubarb and Red Currant Crisp with Polenta Topping. I sliced rhubarb into little pieces (about 8 cups), tossed it with some sugar (about 1/2 cup), some flour (about 3 tablespoons), a vanilla bean, and a few big handfuls of freshly-picked red currants, and voila, we had dessert practically right from the garden.
Fruit crisps are perhaps the best and easiest of desserts to make during the summer, when all the great fruits and berries are at their peak. They’re incredibly easy to put together if you’re anything like me and keep a bag of Polenta Crisp Topping in the freezer, so you can make one at a moment’s notice. In general, I find that 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of flour, plus a dash of vanilla
is just about right for almost any mix of fruits and berries. Mix it all together and put it in a 2-quart baking dish. Cover with crisp topping and bake in a moderate oven until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crispy and nicely-browned.
If using plums or apricots, double the amount of sugar, since they get rather tangy once baked. Although I used rhubarb and red currants in mine, you can use any mixture of peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, and plums. Add a few raspberries or blackberries as well.
Polenta Crisp Topping
Enough for about 8 cups of fruit filling
3/4 cup (105g) flour
2/3 cup (90g) polenta
1/2 cup (55g) almonds or walnuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed light brown or cassonade sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (115g) salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
Put the flour, polenta, almonds or walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix everything together.
Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the butter is finely broken up. Continue to pulse until the crispy topping no longer looks sandy is just beginning to hold together.
If you don’t have a food processor, chop the nuts finely with a chef’s knife then work the butter in with your hands or use a pastry blender.
Storage: Topping can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen in a zip-top bag for up to one month.
Recipe Adapted From: Ripe for Dessert.